What are we doing when we take photographs of our food?
Bragging, obviously, since such shots are intended to be posted on Facebook and tweeted on Twitter, tumbled through Tumblr and pinned on Pinterest and a half dozen other networks I can't think of right now.
We do so to say, "Hey, I'm eating this good stuff, at this trendy hotspot."
I try not to do that.
Not because I'm reluctant to brag. I've got that down to a science. Rather, I have difficulty snapping the picture. There is something low-rent about photographing your food in restaurant. It's akin to eating with your hands, or filling your pockets with bread. Just as you should win as if you've won before, so you should eat in a restaurant as if you've eaten out before.
Plus, if you think about poking around on Facebook, you never come to some food shot and think, "Wow, that looks GREAT; I better go eat there right away." We tend to ignore those photos, and just as well, if we can give any credence to a Brigham Young University study, that last fall suggested that looking at photos of food blunted our enjoyment of eating, since our tastebuds became dulled by just the sight of food.
Actually, now that I think of it, we tend to ignore, or overlook, or miss, the vast majority of everything online. When the history of social media is written, I'm afraid it's going to be the story of a lot of people talking to themselves in cyberspace.
So I try to eat my food, not photograph it. But sometimes I give in, sometimes I feel I have to, not because the food is so good, or the place so trendy, but because the meal just looks so beautiful, like this plate of meatloaf, whipped potatoes and peas and carrots at the County Clare, a lovely pub and restaurant near the art museum in Milwaukee.
It wasn't even my meal, but Ross's. As soon as it was set down I whipped out my phone and fired off a shot.
What made it beautiful? The colors, to start, I suppose, the rich reddish brown of the sauce on the meatloaf, the green and orange peas and carrots, the delicate waves of the potatoes. But more. A certain serenity, a quiet, an innocence, if a plate of meatloaf and potatoes can be said to be innocent. And perhaps it can, it does have its own perfection. The classic meal. Meat and potatoes, literally. A sort of repose. In a moment if would be cut up and chewed over, down the pipe and on its way into something much, much less beautiful.
As are we all.
But before the inevitable arrives, I captured them at their zenith, their pinnacle, and saved them, basking in their glory, albeit a meatloafy kind of glory.